Audio Review: Doctor Who – The Hounds of Artemis

(AudioGo �9.25)

IF the title of this latest original Doctor Who audiobook sounds familiar, it may be because you picked up a free copy as a giveaway with The Guardian back in February. But if you missed it, or are looking for a “proper” release complete with music and sound effects, then now’s your chance to get hold of this first-class story.

Read by 11th Doctor Matt Smith, with Clare Corbett as Helen Stapleton, it’s exactly the sort of tale you wish had made it to TV.

With a real Raiders of the Lost Ark feel to proceedings, but given a new twist which keeps things far from obvious, the emphasis is definitely on scaring the listener through a combination of unsettling story, spooky music and unnerving sound effects.

An abandoned diary written by Amelia Pond reveals the events surrounding the 1929 discovery of the lost tomb of Artemis by archaeologist Lord Woolcroft, and how members of his team were gradually picked off one by one by a mysterious force which is somehow connected to a chilling night-time howling.

Posing as representatives of the Scarman Institute (in a nice nod to 1975 story The Pyramids of Mars), the Doctor and Amy resolve to solve the mystery of the team’s disappearance without altering established historical events…

Smith and Corbett prove an excellent match when it comes to reading the narrative and portraying the various protagonists, and the script is scattered with references from the show’s long history which will reward the more hardcore fan.

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Ultimately however, what writer James Goss has succeeded in creating here is one of the strongest audio stories in the range to date, and as previously highlighted, it’s almost a shame we’re never going to see it on our television screens. But we mustn’t mourn missed opportunities, and should instead celebrate the fact that we can enjoy this story in audio format with the talents of Matt Smith to boot.

A first-rate release which comes highly recommended.